Bates: 'Couldn't give me a better job'
Bates, 62, held his first news conference today since being hired to replace Kiffin Jan. 22.
"I'd rather come in following Monte than come into someplace where they haven't been passionate, they haven't had the team feel and they haven't played good defense,'' Bates said. "I'm glad I'm coming in here. And they're big shoes to fill. But we've also had some great defenses as far as over the years. We're just looking forward to the challenge.''
Bates, who had top 10 defenses in Miami and Green Bay, outlined some of the differences and similarities to Kiffin's Tampa Two scheme.
Under Bates, he said there will be some carryover in the 4-3 alignment. But their defensive linemen will play more 'head up,' on blockers and Bates will look for bigger players, particularly at the tackle positions. Bates also plans to use a steady rotation on the defensive line to keep players fresh throughout the season.
"We're going to use what Monte and the players are comfortable with in certain areas,'' Bates said. "The blend is going to be for the better, especially in the fronts. We'll change a little bit. We're more of a constant 4-3, we're not as over and under as much. Terminology will change, but it's a very player-friendly terminology that they'll be able to acquire without difficulty.''
The biggest difference will come in the secondary, where Bates prefers to play a lot more bump-and-run coverage, a scheme that would benefit players like Aqib Talib and Phillip Buchanon but perhaps not Pro Bowl cornerback Ronde Barber.
"If anything is going to really strike you, the corners will play a lot more bump coverage,'' Bates said. "We will play off. We will play some of the things they've done and been very successful with in the past. But we will be a lot more aggressive with corner play as far as in the bump technique.''
Improving the pass rush will be a big task for Bates, whose players have piled up huge sack numbers where ever he has coached.
"If we're really good, we'll rush four,'' Bates said. "If we can rush four and defend with seven, that's the way we'll go. If we need to bring five or six or all-out blitz, we have to have it in our game plans.
"We do play tight, match coverage, so the quarterback holds the ball. We've had tremendous success improving a lot of sacks as far as our four-man rush. Jason Taylor had 2 1/2, we went in there and he went 14.5 and 17. Trace Armstrong went from single digits to 16.5, the only Pro Bowl he made...we've had a lot of success.''
Bates' son Jeremy joined the Bucs in 2002 as an offensive quality control coach -- the same year the Bucs hired Raheem Morris as a defensive quality control assitant. He has coached at the University of Florida and very familiar with his new surroundings.
In short, he said he couldn't ask for a better opportunity.
"You couldn't give me a better job than I have right now,'' Bates said.
(Times photo -- Daniel Wallace. Click to enlarge.)